The Australian ended a victory drought for McLaren that stretched back to 2012 as he led team-mate Lando Norris to grab a 1-2 finish at Monza last weekend.
Speaking amid celebrations on his return to McLaren’s Woking factory, Ricciardo has explained how the rage he felt after missing out on a top three slot in qualifying on Friday turned into something much bigger that he needed to channel.
“I was pretty dark after the qualifying,” he explained. “Something in me, I was like: I just don’t want to be here anymore in terms of like…I want to win, I want to be the guy. Being like close, it just fuelled me more than anything.
“Obviously it [qualifying] was good and the team were: ‘it’s a good session, you should be happy’. And I appreciate that it was, relative to this year it was a good session, but that’s when the competitor in me just really came out.
“I can’t even explain it. It was just like something, like a burning feeling inside of me, and I was just like: ‘no, it’s not good enough.’
“I was like blinkers on for the rest of the weekend. It’s easy to say now because I won. But like, honestly, there was something that came over me, particularly after Friday evening, and I was I guess a man on a mission.”
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris celebrate their Monza 1-2 at Woking with McLaren team members
Photo by: McLaren
Ricciardo said the feeling that consumed him was similar to what he experienced during a breakthrough year with Red Bull in 2014 when he overshadowed then team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
“I’ve definitely carried confidence through race weekends, and it has been there at moments for sure, but not to that level,” he said. “That was something that hopefully not many can relate to, because it feels kind of primal. But it’s why I do it as well.
“I don’t just say that to sound cool in front of the camera. It truly is just the other side to me, which, when it does come out, I know that it’s so powerful.
“It was like 2014, when I had what you can call the breakthrough year. That’s when I got to let those emotions show on track. And that’s why it became so powerful for me.”
While this feeling helped Ricciardo focus to deliver the victory in Italy, he reckons he is now in a position to be able to produce more success without needing to tap into it again.
“I believe so. I want to be there, because just the competitor in me, I like that. I like that kind of fire in me. It’s kind of like the chip on the shoulder: I like that feeling. It kind of makes you feel alive. And it’s a good angry.
“You take a lot of energy from that anger. But after the weekend, I don’t think it’s like I need to tap into that place all the time to get it out of myself.
“I think I drew a lot of confidence from that weekend, and also the team, I think a lot of them have supported me and believed in me from the start.
“The weekend kind of just reassured everyone, so I think as a team moving forward, we can be quietly confident.”